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Lancet HIV Article, Commentary Discuss Harm Reduction Programs For HIV Prevention In Russia

The Lancet HIV: Potential impact of implementing and scaling up harm reduction and antiretroviral therapy on HIV prevalence and mortality and overdose deaths among people who inject drugs in two Russian cities: a modelling study
Javier A. Cepeda of the Division of Infectious Diseases and Global Public Health at the University of California San Diego, and colleagues examined “the effects that scaling up harm reduction (i.e., use of [opioid agonist therapy (OAT)] and coverage of [needle and syringe programs (NSPs)]) and use of [antiretroviral therapy (ART)] might have on HIV incidence and the frequency of fatal overdoses among [people who inject drugs (PWID)] in two cities in the Ural Federal District and Siberian Federal District, where the prevalence of HIV is high or increasing in PWID.” The authors conclude, “Legalization of OAT and increased use of ART and NSPs for PWID are urgently needed to prevent HIV and fatal overdose among PWID in Russia” (7/19).

The Lancet HIV: Access to opioid agonist therapy in Russia: time for reform
In an accompanying editorial, Alexei Zelenev of the Yale School of Medicine AIDS Program, discusses the report from Javier Cepeda and colleagues, writing, “Although compartmental models, such as the one by Cepeda and colleagues, provide a useful insight into the scaling up of interventions to treat HIV, further studies are needed to guide HIV prevention efforts in Russia and globally. … A commitment to support and expand harm reduction programs, including OAT, is a crucial step in the right direction. Without policy reform and commitment, Russia’s current prospects for stopping the HIV epidemic appear bleak” (7/19).